As the nation of Greece and its European creditors do battle over the country’s economic future, Greek-Americans in the Philadelphia region are watching closely.
Eleftherios Kostans, a photojournalist and a board member of the Greek American Heritage Society of Philadelphia, said most Greeks he’s spoken to haven’t let the crisis slow them down.
“In certain key pockets, it’s big news. The big cities,” Kostans said. “But for many Greeks, what I’ve heard is, it’s business as usual. People are still going to the beaches, they’re still going to the cafes, they’re still working. People are going about their business. They’re not going to change their lifestyles.”
Most Greek-Americans in this area seem to support Greece’s attempts to fend off European creditors and their demands for more austerity, Kostans said. At the same time, he said, many see Greece as a nation whose economic habits are unsustainable.
But if the best path forward politically is unclear, he said, the personal choice for most Greeks he knows is to stay the course. That includes his father, who hasn’t let the crisis stop him from going home to try to sell some family property.
“My father just doesn’t care what the government is going to do. He’s going to go about his business,” Kostans said. “That’s sort of metaphor for how Greeks see their lifestyle. They’re going to do what they’re doing. They don’t really care. They’re going to sit in a cafe for four hours and enjoy a cup of coffee, regardless.”
For the moment, Kostans said he isn’t worried about the Greek crisis affecting Greek-American businesses and communities here in the Delaware Valley; he expects it eventually resolve into a workable compromise.
But if the Greek economy keeps weakening, he said, the young people of Greece are more likely to seek opportunity elsewhere. That includes the Philadelphia region, which Kostans estimated is home to about 40,000 Greek speakers.